A former Air Force intelligence analyst was arrested Thursday and charged with leaking classified documents about U.S. military campaigns against al Qaeda to a reporter.
Daniel Everette Hale, 31, of Nashville, Tennessee, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday at the federal courthouse there.
The indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia charges him with criminal counts, including disclosing national defense information, theft of government property and transmitting national defense information.
If convicted, Mr. Hale could face up to 10 years in prison for each count.
Mr. Hale served in the Air Force from 2009 to 2013 and later worked as a contractor assigned to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Justice Department said.
Prosecutors say Mr. Hale began communicating with a reporter in 2013, whom he met while the journalist was doing a book tour in Washington. The meeting began several months of communications between them, both in person and through an encrypted messaging app.
The reporter is not identified in court documents, but the publication dates of classified documents matched stories written by Jeremy Scahill, founding editor of the Intercept.
Among the 11 Top Secret or Secret documents Mr. Hale allegedly handed over to the reporter was a confidential memo outlining U.S. counterterrorism operations overseas under President Barack Obama, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said Mr. Hale also leaked a document describing a military campaign targeting al Qaeda, a secret intelligence report about an al Qaeda operative, information about “specific named targets,” and a secret PowerPoint slide “outlining the effects of the military campaign targeting al-Qaeda overseas.”
“Hale had been advised that the unauthorized disclosure of Top Secret information reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States,” prosecutors wrote in the 17-page indictment.
Court records say many of the classified documents allegedly disclosed by Mr. Hale appeared in a 2015 news article.
On October 2015, Mr. Scahill published an article for The Intercept based on a cache of secret information that exposed Obama-era drone secrets. The article says the documents published with the story were “provided by a whistleblower.”
“The source said he decided to provide these documents to The Intercept because he believes the public has a right to understand the process by which people are placed on kill lists and ultimately assassinated on orders for the highest echelons of the U.S. government,” the Intercept piece said.
Mr. Hale listed his work with drone operations on his resume, according to the indictment, which also quotes a text message he sent a friend saying the reporter “wants me to tell my story about working with drones.”
All told, Mr. Hale provided the reporter with 36 documents, including 23 unrelated to his work, according to the indictment. Of those published, 11 documents were marked as either Top Secret or Secret.
Prosecutors say Mr. Hale communicated with the reporter through Jabber, an encrypted messaging service.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.